Nici’s Christmas Tale by Jean Gill – Blog Tour
A stand-alone short story in the multi-award-winning Troubadours Quartet series
1157: Aquitaine. The wolves are coming! At midnight on Christmas Eve, while the blizzard blasts snow through every crack in the castle walls, Nici the Shepherd’s Dog stands guard in the sheepfold.
Beside him as usual are his pack and the flock they protect but this night is not usual at all. A small boy braves the snowy night, seeking the protection of his great friend while he is banned from his parents’ quarters in the castle. Nici recalls other times and other dangers, his trials and failures, the reasons why he ran away with a young girl, now the little boy’s mother. He would still give his life in a heartbeat for Lady Estela. And yet, on this snowy night, he cannot help her. So, while he waits and comforts Estela’s son, he tells his own puppies the story of a dog’s life.
Nici’s Christmas Tale is a short story, at only 58 pages it is a quick read but each one of those pages is full of rich detail and a beautifully told dog’s tale.
This is my first encounter of the Troubadours Quartet series and indeed of Jean Gill’s writing. I was drawn to the idea of a dog being the narrator and I think Jean has stepped into the mind Nici perfectly.
Nici is a Great Pyrenees. My knowledge of dogs is very limited but you can tell that Jean has a great love for the breed and knows an awful to about them. Nici’s tale is set in the 12th century so it took some research of shepherding of this time for Jean but she has captured time and place perfectly.
Nici’s bond with both his humans and pack is incredibly moving and, from my limited expertise of dogs, absolutely spot on. I love her take on a new life coming into the world on Christmas Eve, with all the worry and trauma that surrounds the birth, especially during medieval times. As Nici recounts his story to his pups we are also taken on his journey, following through his hardships, his courage and at times his despair. This is one brave dog who has encountered great cruelty but never shied away from his duty and what he felt was right. He is certainly a dog I would like to have by my side.
This is a lovely, unusual Christmas tale that I thoroughly enjoyed. Although I am not familiar with The Troubadours Quartet and the adventures of Estela and Dragonetz, I have enjoyed getting to know their most loyal companion and I now look forward to reading more of their tales too.
About The Author
Jean Gill is a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with two scruffy dogs, a beehive named ‘Endeavour’, a Nikon D750 and a man. For many years, she taught English and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Wales. She is mother or stepmother to five children so life was hectic.
Publications are varied, including prize-winning poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.
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You can purchase the ebook of Nici’s Christmas Tale here.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and thanks to both her and Jean for the review copy. I’ve really enjoyed visiting Nici’s world.